Category Archives: Pies

Memories of Meals Past: Strawberry & Lime Cremeaux Pie

Berrylicious, baby!

Berrylicious, baby!

Today being Throwback Thursday (and therefore time for a Memories of Meals Past post), I’m going to write up a recipe for a pie I made last weekend. I went to a St. Patrick’s day party last Saturday, and all the guests were supposed to bring drinks, but seeing as it was also Pi Day, I decided to bring a pie instead! I looked around my kitchen and tried to figure out what sort of pie to make.

I usually have frozen fruit in the freezer, so I looked in there and found some strawberries from when I last went berry-picking. I also was craving some sort of creamy, custardy pie, and having made Dorie Greenspan’s Pink Grapefruit Tart recently, which had a cremeaux base (a sort of thick custard), I decided to add a layer of lime cremeaux. Why lime? It’s what was in the fridge. Yup, last minute pies mean that you use what you’ve got!

The pie dough itself was my favourite vodka pie crust, with a combo of butter (for taste) and shortening (for flakiness) in the dough. I tried a new pie edging technique, and learnt about the necessity of blind baking. You see, I was starting to run short on time because I was also making a Canadian meat galette for the DH (recipe to come in a future post), so I tried to cut out the blind baking part when baking the pie crust for the cremeaux pie.

Yeah…um, don’t do that!

The bottom of the pie bakes up all bubbly and stuff, which I don’t care about since it’s being topped with stuff, but the sides tend to sort of slide down and become lop-sided. Not exactly the picture of perfection, although it tastes perfectly delicious.

That's some fancy edging, 'yo! Using my vintage Tupperware cookie cutter.

That’s some fancy edging, ‘yo! Using my vintage Tupperware cookie cutter.

And then when I made the strawberries in glaze for the top, I didn’t decorate it to the pie’s best advantage. Hence the lack of gorgeous photos of this pie! But…it was a HUGE hit! Almost everyone who tasted it asked for the recipe and an 11-year-old at the party made a point of coming up to me and complimenting me on it. (Quite the self-possessed kid, I have to say!)

So here’s the recipe! Learn from my mistake and blind bake the dough, though!

Strawberry & Lime Cremeaux Pie

  • 1 vodka pie crust
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. unflavoured gelatin
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 7/8 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. lime juice
  • 2 c. frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream (if you like super-creamy custards — otherwise, omit)

Roll out the dough and transfer to a pie plate. Crimp the edges in a satisfactory fashion (I did half crimping and half cookie cutter cut-outs — was pretty!) and blind bake in an oven at 450 degrees until golden. Remove baking weights (I use dried chickpeas) and let cool.

Fancy pie crust is fancy! Remember, blind baking is your friend!

Fancy pie crust is fancy! Remember, blind baking is your friend!

Mix lime juice and 1/2 c. sugar together. Over medium heat, stir in eggs and cook until thickened, stirring continuously. This will be a while but don’t walk away from the stove. When it’s nice and custardy-thick, you can pour it into a blender. Take gelatin (less one tsp.) and mix it with 1/2 c. water until dissolved. Add that to the mixture in the blender and blend. Then add in the butter, a few chunks at a time and blend til it’s all smooth. You can add in the cream and blend again. Pour it into a bowl, cover it with plastic, and stick it in the freezer for a good 30 minutes, or until it’s thick enough to stand a spoon in. Not thick enough? Stick it back in the freezer. 🙂 I know that this isn’t the standard way to thicken a cremeaux, but eh, it works and it saves time.

While the cremeaux is thickening, you can mix the frozen strawberries with the remaining sugar, and add in the remaining tsp. of gelatin (after you’ve mixed with the remaining water and let it ‘bloom’). Stir the mixture occasionally over medium heat until the strawberries are defrosted and the glaze is sticky and gelatinous.

To put it all together: spread the lime cremeaux into the cooled, baked pie crust. Place the strawberries in a nice design on top and gently pour the syrupy glaze over the whole thing. Let sit in the fridge until the glaze is set. And dig in and enjoy! Yum!

Next Post: Maybe that Canadian Meat Galette? Obviously veg-style though. Or perhaps the next cook-a-long recipe, a shortbread-chocolate-caramel-popcorn square? Mmm…now I want caramel popcorn! *drool*

Vegetarian (or not) Meat Hand Pies with a Vodka Crust

Warm from the oven with a flaky, buttery crust!

Warm from the oven with a flaky, buttery crust!

So. These meat pies are soooo good! Hot out of the oven, with a meaty, saucy filling, in a flaky, golden crust, or straight out of the fridge for a quick snack or lunch, they’re tasty both ways!

The recipe makes 6 hand meat pies, or 1 full pie. If you make a standard pie as opposed to the hand-held ones, you’ll use all the meat filling, but if you make the hand pies, you’ll only use half the filling.  With any leftover filling, stick the rest in the freezer for the next batch of pies! Or make twice the pie crust and end up with a dozen of these tasty hand pies! They freeze well, so you can stick them in the freezer for lunches, quick dinners, or those midnight snack cravings.

What I love about them is that you can switch them up easily. Got frozen veggies in the freezer? Add them in! Last night’s leftovers? Add them too!

Muffin pan mania! Fill with gravylicious filling of your choice.

Muffin pan mania! Fill with gravylicious filling of your choice.

Are you wondering why there’s vodka in the crust? Well, I explored that more in my Pie Crust Odyssey, but basically it’s because it holds the dough together but will evaporate when baked, making the crust extra flaky.

I’m kind of cheating with this recipe, because I’ve posted about it before (although I used TVP then, so…maybe not cheating?), but the meat pies are just so good that I couldn’t resist sharing them again! This is some seriously good pie.

Meat Hand Pie with Vodka Crust

  • 1 pie dough recipe (here’s my vodka crust recipe)
  • 1 package meat (I used Yves’ Veggie Ground Round)
  • 1 package (or homemade) gravy

Make the gravy and mix with the meat. Set aside. Take the pie dough and cut (or tear) into 6 pieces. Roll out each piece and use a large mug to cut out a circle. Take that circle and roll it out slightly. Push into an ungreased muffin pan, and fill 2/3rds with the meat mixture. Take the scraps from that 1/6th of pie dough, and smoosh into a circle.  Press that circle of dough onto the meat-filled dough into the muffin pan, crimping the edges of the base and top together (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Cut a slit into the top. Bake in a 450 degree oven until the tops are golden brown. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. Enjoy hot or cold!

Parcel 'em up and hand 'em out! Or hoard. (They're just so tasty!)

Parcel ’em up and hand ’em out! Or hoard. (They’re just so tasty!)

I took one to work the next day and a colleague as well as the office cat were interested in them. I did not share — that cat also has IBS issues (it’s like we’re twins! *grin*) and is on a strict diet. So I had to eat the meat pie myself. With salad. Because that’s what’s for lunch.

The office cat was intrigued when I brought one to work for lunch. However, I declined to share.

The office cat was intrigued when I brought one to work for lunch. However, I declined to share.

Next Post: Ham and Parmesan Crepes and my Grandmother’s Cooking.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!

Triple Chocolate Tart with Homemade Peppermint Patties

Eating my triple chocolate torte...topped with homemade peppermint patties!

Eating my triple chocolate torte…topped with homemade peppermint patties!

One of my friends hosted a game night recently and as it was a potluck, I volunteered to bring a chocolate dessert. I couldn’t think of one that I’ve already made that I wanted to bring, so I looked around for something yummy to catch my attention. I found a couple of recipes online and modified them to my taste, and voila! Triple Chocolate Tart with Homemade Peppermint Patties was born!

I will definitely be making these peppermint patties many times in the future. They’re an easy melt-in-your-mouth treat to make (only four ingredients!) and keep in the fridge for those chocolate cravings. I love that I can make them and know that they’re colourant and preservative-free. These would make great Christmas/holiday/foodie gifts. If they last that long. *grin*

Let’s patty it up!

Rolling out the fragrant candy dough.

Rolling out the fragrant candy dough.

Homemade Peppermint Patties

  • 1 1/4 c icing sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp. melted butter
  • 1 tsp. peppermint flavouring, to taste
  • 1 1/4  c. choc (I used a mixture of milk chocolate bar and semi-sweet choc. chips)

Mix icing sugar with butter until a sort of dough forms. Add in peppermint flavouring and knead in. Roll out on parchment paper to desired thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Transfer to a parchment paper covered baking tray and freeze for at least half an hour.

Melt chocolate in the microwave in short 15 s bursts. Dip frozen peppermint patties into chocolate and place back on parchment paper lined cookie tray. Put back in freezer until chocolate coating is solid.

Store in fridge. Makes 30 bite sized peppermint patties.

Choosing cute shapes for the patties is fun!

Choosing cute shapes for the patties is fun!

And then I placed them ever so carefully on this chocolate tart, which has a chocolate pastry crust, a dark chocolate flourless-cake-type filling, and a milk chocolate ganache topping.  As always, I made modifications: I left out the salt topping from the tart, and only used 3 eggs for the dough and 3 for the filling (as opposed to the 9 total it called for). I also added in icing sugar and more milk chocolate to the ganache on the top when it didn’t set the way I wanted it to.

But the final product? Ta ha! Looks pretty good, huh? Tastes pretty good too! As one of my friends said, it’s like molten chocolate cake! In torte form. With peppermint patties on top!

A slice of the torte at the potluck! Am glad people enjoyed it.

A slice of the torte at the potluck! Am glad people enjoyed it.

Next Post: I’ve been working on the long-promised Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns recipe and I think it’s almost ready!

Pie Crust Odyssey: The Ultimate Caramel Crumb Apple Pie

 

She can bake an apple pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy...

She can bake an apple pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy…

The air in my kitchen is deliciously scented, because I have a Caramel Crumb Apple Pie cooling on the counter! That’s right, I’ve combined all sorts of yummy things into one penultimate pie! It’s mom’s apple pie, but with caramel sauce drizzled in the filling, topped with a cinnamon crumb topping, and baked until golden brown and fragrant!

It’s the end of the Pie Crust Odyssey, and of course the last pie had to be apple because, well, apple pie is a staple! I’d say there’s nothing quite as American as apple pie, but I’m Canadian, so really, I should be serving the pie with cheddar cheese, eh? I’m not a fan of mixing sweet and savoury, as least not in my apple pie, so I just added caramel and crumbs to the classic that I grew up with.

Oh, it smells soooo good! The DH is hovering around the kitchen and asking if the pie is cool enough to eat yet. It’s not, so I shall type up the recipe while it cools a bit, and then we shall eat pie!

The redolent-of-cinnamon recipe:

Butter and Vinegar Crust

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. butter
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. ice water

Mix all the ingredients up in a mixer (what, you think I’m going to do this by hand? You do that. I’ll use a mixer.) until a dough is formed. Rest in fridge while filling is assembled. Then roll out and place in pie plate. And it’s done, and on to the filling!

Caramel Sauce

  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • ½ c .white sugar
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. water
  • Pinch salt

Melt butter in a pot on medium heat. Add in flour and whisk until bubbling. Add in sugars, salt, and water, and stir. Cook until caramel sauce just *starts* to stick to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.

Filling

  • 6 Gala apples, or your favourite
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Peel and roughly slice the apples. Toss with the flour and cinnamon. Set aside.

Crumb Topping

  • 1 c. flour
  • ¼ c. white sugar mixed with 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cut up into small pieces

Mix up the white sugar with the molasses. Dump in everything else and mix until a soft crumb forms. Set aside.

Now we get to assemble our luscious layers!

      Good enough to eat as is.

Good enough to eat as is.

Dump the apple filling into the pie shell. Sort of spread it around, and heap it slightly in the centre. Evenly pour the caramel sauce all over the top. Lick the caramel pot clean. Top  filling with the crumbs, sprinkling evenly over the top. It’ll look like a lot of floury crumbs, but it bakes down. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and then cover with foil if crumb topping is getting brown. Bake for a further 40 minutes, covered, at 350 degrees, or until the apples are soft when a fork is stuck into the pie. Uncover during the last few minutes and brown the top if it isn’t already golden brown. Cool. Slice, serve, and wow your friends and family.

Ok, I’ve written up the recipe, it’s time to serve the pie! *interruption to eat pie* Oh, so good! I gobbled it right up. And the DH fell asleep while the pie was cooling, so I ate his slice too. I think that’s only fair. The caramel flavour isn’t as strong as you might expect, but that’s actually a good thing because otherwise the pie would be too sweet. It does need to cool a bit before cutting and serving, but I ate it while it was still warm and it was perfect! I think I’ve just created myself a new classic — try it out and let me know what you think!

      Eat me. Now.

Eat me. Now.

As for the Pie Crust Odyssey, I’ve figured out that for myself, I prefer a butter AND shortening crust, heavier on the shortening, and made with vinegar. I find that makes for the flakiest and tastiest crust.  Thoughts?

Next Post:  Probably something with vegetables (zucchini? eggplant?), because I’m buttered out after this pie. (Still worth it.)

Pie Odyssey: Quiche Dreams Are Made of…This

Whole foods of the world, unite!

Whole foods of the world, unite!

No Pie Odyssey would be complete without a handed-down pie crust recipe, and this is one that comes from my family. Which I (of course) then modified, based on my pie-making experience and the ingredients I had on hand. I was going to try a purely shortening crust, but only had half a cup of the shortening, so I added in some butter. And I’m trying it with vinegar because before there was the vodka crust, vinegar was the crust innovation de jour.

Let’s see how it turns out!

Vinegar Pie Crust

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. cold water

Mix flour, salt, shortening and 2 tbsp. water and 2 tbsp. vinegar together until crumbly. Add in butter and mix until still crumbly and butter is distributed. Add in remaining vinegar to hold it all together. Form into flattened ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour or more.

Roll it out on a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin. Roll the dough over the rolling pin to lift it into the pie plate. Cut off any overhanging edges and use them to fill in any empty spaces.

Crimp the pie crust by squishing the edge between one finger on one hand and two fingers on the other hand. Or use a fork to make a decorative edge.

 

Layered up real nice. Or just put it any which way.

Layered up real nice. Or just put it any which way.

Now, what to put inside the crust? Well, it’s dinner time and I’m hungry, so let’s make a quiche!

A few years ago now, I went to the south of France and explored a medieval village there, St. Paul de Vence. There’s a little café in the village that makes a delicious tarte a la tomate that was the inspiration for this quiche. The owner of the café gave me a tip when she saw how much I enjoyed my lunch: a light spread of mustard on the pie crust before adding in the rest of the filling gives it a piquancy that makes the dish.

I don’t know whether it was that I had just recovered from an stomach upset earlier in my trip and was extra hungry, or whether it was the locally grown tomatoes, but it was soooo good! I’ve always wanted to replicate it, and here I’ve taken that flavour and added it to a quiche.

Ready to be popped into the oven!

Ready to be popped into the oven!

Provencal-Inspired Quiche

  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. prepared mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough tomato slices to cover the bottom of the pie (depends on your tomato size)
  • 2 chopped green onions

Spread mustard on the bottom of the pie crust. Add sliced tomatoes to cover mustard. Mix eggs, milk, cheese, chopped green onions, salt, and pepper together and pour over tomatoes. Bake in 400 degree oven until top is starting to brown and the quiche is set (it’s at least as firm as jello when you touch the centre), about half an hour. 

Let cool, slice, and enjoy! Serve with a soupcon of French words, mais oui?

Fresh from the oven, all golden and yum!

Fresh from the oven, all golden and yum!

Ok, so this crust is very crumbly, even though it holds together well enough to serve. I guess the vinegar really makes a difference! If you like crumbly crust, this is definitely the recipe for you! I have yet to figure out how to make a crust flaky and not crumbly, but maybe there’s no difference. Or is there? Let me know in the comments! 

Next Post: The Pie Odyssey Comes to an End, with the Mother of all Apple Pies.